I don’t know what has happened in our household lately. Everyone is arguing with each other. The kids I mean. Paul isn’t one for arguing, I argue, he listens, occasionally says his piece, I threaten to pack my shit into bin liners and leave, he laughs knowing I have nowhere to go and that’s it, a quick snog and it’s all sorted.
But the kids? They’ve not stopped arguing with each other.
If you’ve read previous blog posts, you’ll know I’m bred from a highly disfunctional family, this isn’t something I want to relive going forward so we do our best to make sure our household is permanently happy and iron out any issues pretty quickly. Being a blended family meant it wasn’t always going to be easy. I can only discipline Paul’s children to a certain level and likewise with Paul when it comes to Nev.
When we became a family, we made a mutual decision to raise the three little humans as brother and sister, no “step” necessary. I’m a huge believer in not needing to be 100% genetically matched in order to love each other and live as siblings. It was something we’ve all agreed upon, Paul’s children have another blended family with their Mum, her partner and his children so it’s a situation that suits us all. Our family doesn’t need titles, it just needs a lot of love and a massive amount of respect for each other.
The first three years have worked a treat, the kids barely disagreed on anything and the house was always full of laughter. But recently, Paul and I find ourselves looking forward to going to work and having a “what the fuck is wrong with them” conversation on the way. They just cannot seem to be in a room with each other without bossing each other around, arguing or wanting to shit down each other’s necks.
It’s hard work having not one, but two teenagers in the house as well as an 8 year old who is trying to find her identity and refuses to cut the apron strings to her Dayyee. She commands a lot of his time and we’ve never had an issue with Paul giving it. Nev is forever locked away in her bedroom watching Drag Queens on YouTube (she’s still annoyed that she doesn’t have a dick) and George is doing his own thing, (by his own thing, I mean watching repeats of Call The Midwife or Casualty). Now it should be a bit of an issue for us that we never all seem to be in the same room together, Paul and I are forever moaning about it. Or at least we were until the two teenagers decided that being around each other was like putting Trump and Clinton back on the podium and watching them battle it out.
Everything became a competition. A constant “My Dad is bigger than your Dad scenario”, what would start out as ‘banter’ between them would end up in a slanging match and either Paul or myself would have to step in and tell them to quit. George knows how to wind Nev up, Nev knows how to respond and take it to the next level. Nev allows Lyla to get away with anything but if George is to do it, back the fuck off pal. George is very articulate and can hold himself very well, Nev will simply huff, puff and get angry. You know the situation requires a referee when her eyebrows begin to blend in the middle. I accept that this is normal between children, but for just one weekend only, we wanted it to be different. Paul and I wanted to hear laughter and the familiar sounds of their lame private jokes.
Usually, we give them the option of what we do on the weekend. We do what they want to do as long as it’s within reason. So far so good, although I appreciate Nev is close to the age where she’ll be drinking white lightening in the park with her friends so we need to make the most of our weekends together. The problem is, they can never reach a mutual decision as to what to do. Lyla is active and loves to be outdoors in the mud, Nev wants to stay home (yes, with the Drag Queens) and George just goes with the flow even though his face says he’d rather be anywhere but walking in the cold through a muddy forest. So this time, Paul and I decided to make the plans and tell them only when we were halfway there.
So, we went back to where we know the kids are at their happiest and carefree. Hunstanton. The place where we had our first little family getaway, the place where the kids enjoyed being around each other, the place where Beth earnt the nickname “Neville”
At first, I was deflated when they guessed. They didn’t seem a bit excited. Me? I was awake at 4.30 in the hope it was time to get in the car and go to the place where the serve the best warm cinnamon doughnuts. I looked at Paul and for a second, I think we both panicked a little, had we made the right choice?
Within two minutes of arriving, they were back in the room again. Happy, carefree, laughing and enjoying being siblings. Not once did they bitch, not once did they make snide comments to each other and best of all, not once did they come to Paul and I to moan about each other. They skimmed pebbles on the beach, played in the 2p slot machines in the arcade, played with the stress ball boobs in the joke shop (call Social Services if you want but you try and stop them finding it amusing), they went on rides together at the mini fair (even more amazing that this year, Lyla was finally able to go on rides with them because she’s grown that all important inch) , they walked together along the promenade and shared cones of chips at our favourite seaside chippy.
Paul seemed to be relaxed for the first time in a long time, he wasn’t thinking about work, deadlines or worrying about which child was going to piss the other off first. He was just Dad/Paul for the whole day and that I so god damn attractive (at one point I looked at him and thought I might just put out tonight) I also noticed that even Paul and I didn’t bicker once, usually, having to step in between the kids causes a little bicker but not today (so that deserves a game of hide the sausage right?) Today was just a nice, normal family day. The only rule we made was not to go crazy and spend, spend, spend. So we drew £50 out of the cashpoint and once it was gone, that was it. Once we’d spent it, we got back in the car and came home, all of us feeling happy and stress free.
I understand that it’s normal to get on each other’s tits. But sometimes, I think it’s important to take a bit of time out to take stock of what matters. We’ve had to fight hard to make our family work, we spent the first 18 months doing the long distance thing, living together is what we all wanted and we just needed to remind the kids that without having to say it.
Now we are home, normal service had resumed. Nev is watching…I don’t even need to say it. George is watching….yep. And Lyla, she’s actually not with her Dad at the moment so he’s chilling with s well deserved beer. For now, the house is quiet, there’s now arguing. I can’t say how long it will last for, but for now, I’m enjoying this truce.
Let’s see how much luck we have when we go bowling tomorrow.